Monday, June 21, 2010
Why Read To Readers?
Do you still read to your children once they are proficient readers themselves? It's true that they may read just fine independently and that should be encouraged, but let's consider some of the benefits of listening to someone else read. When you listen to a good narrator, you learn how to pronounce words you may have only read silently and mispronounced in your mind. This is one of the ways I knew my children had been exposed to a new vocabulary word, when they said something that was phonetically correct but not the accurate way to produce the word. Listening to me as I read aloud also exposed them to variations in inflection, volume, and timing which are important components for developing language skills. When I read to my children, even after they were good readers, I could explain vocabulary and themes in the context of what we were reading together. I could pause for discussion, something that typically does not happen during independent reading. Hearing my children's perspectives helped me to see how they express and process information. It gave me insight into some of their personality traits as they learned to think critically about our reading selections. Sharing a book together gave us common experiences which generalized to other activities. We sometimes quote favorite lines to each other or make a reference to a literary character with shared understanding. Another benefit of reading to younger children is that you can tackle more advanced material and facilitate a love for good literature from a young age. Listening to someone else read is good practice for comprehension, as the children are taught to visualize what they are hearing. Good readers can picture what they are reading about, which is why seeing a movie based on a book can be disappointing when it doesn't match what we had imagined while reading. When someone reads aloud it also provides the listeners with good practice for auditory skills. Learning to tune in to the auditory channel is an important skill that impacts many other academic and life skills. I recommend listening to stories performed by a good narrator even for young children who are not yet readers themselves. Learning to listen and visualize will serve them well in their own independent reading endeavors. Memory is enhanced when a visual image is recalled, so encourage your children to picture the story along with you as you read to them. I read to my children even when they were in high school and quite capable of reading without me, because the shared experience meant not only reading together but time together and connections made despite busy schedules. How many of us love to read but are hard pressed to find the time to actually sit down with a book that's not related to work or school with our children? Several years into homeschooling I discovered audio books for me. Again, a good narrator makes all the difference when listening to a story, but having access to audio books allowed me to "read" that way while doing dishes, laundry, crocheting, and other tasks. I still find that I have little time to just sit and read, but I no longer have a sense of reading deprivation as I go about my day with my little MP3 player loaded with audio books. Reading and being read to can be enjoyable for all ages and levels of readers.